Tag: volvo

Sunday Column (140)

What a week. Just back from my holidays things got busy at work. And at home for that matter as we all got a blimming cold (or man flu which is even worse). However, we managed to stay alive, the kids got better by the end of the week, and we got a final answer to our car. THE final answer.

I had a trip to Milan and returned late Friday.

When I went to Milano, Italy, I also travelled around a bit, including an amazing office with the biggest vertical garden in Europe. See picture. The architecture in Italy is amazing, people are great, and the online business is fantastico too. Just not as developed as in London for instance. But we are working on it very successfully.

Then THE CAR this week: our lovely Volvo XC90 with this amazing engine for this amazing price and the amazing expensive repairs which were partly unnecessary….had to be written off. At least from our end. When the garage eventually discovered that the gear box needed replacing, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We couldn’t and wouldn’t want to afford that. We still got a bit of money back for the unnecessary repair and the car but of course this wasn’t the end we had in mind.

What we learn: don’t trust the first garage you go to. Doves Volvo Croydon literally sold us the car knowing the gear box for that model came to an end. We had endless repairs last year. Our new Volvo garage now got us a good deal, a fantastic offer for repair (which we had to decline), and were really amazing. Thanks for that.

So if you want to buy a Volvo in England/London, please go and visit the guys from Parkside Volvo Orpington! Somehow I think I am going to be back there within the next 12 months πŸ™‚

We haven’t been too lucky with cars. After I left Germany where I drove a Fiat machine (Punto I believe), I took over my brother’s Nissan Sunny in 2002, nicknamed the Messerschmidt in my bouncer days, which gave up after 14 (or even 16?) years. Bless. Then Molly, my wife’s old Corsa which packed in after 11 years I believe and we sold for small change. We then got a Nissan Primera which I drowned in the flood after 9 days on the road, then an Astra which was great until we had kids (space wise) and we got the Volvo XC90 last February.

We were hoping the XC90 would last for a while. At least until the kiddies were old enough for front facing car seats but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.

For now we decided to try to live without a car but I am sure we must look into a people carrier or mini bus next year πŸ™‚ We shall see. We managed shopping in Bromley today going by bus, so we can accommodate – so far anyway.

So that was the excitement of this week. At least we found closure. RIP big Volvo beast. We are going to miss you but maybe the new Volvo XC90 R is just what the family needs. It is supposed to come out shortly.

I guess this will be all for this week folks. The weekend was quiet – kind of. It was a mix of children and baby and adult parties. And public transport of course.

Have a great week!

Sunday Column (137)

Going back through the week makes me realise why I feel a bit run down. I had 39 degrees temperature on Friday, sleeping 13 hours – a proper 24 hour flu or as Wikipedia would put it: ILI = influenza like illness. I was feeling better on Sunday: so back in the ring tomorrow.

Friday I took our Volvo down to the dealership in Orpington. The dealer we bought it at in Croydon annoyed us, so I needed a trustworthy dealership. Unfortunately, Kwik Fit took 4 weeks to find out that the noise we kept hearing came (allegedly) from the transfer box. However, taking the car to the dealer, they couldn’t place the noise at all. I wait to hear back on Monday. So Kwik Fit is definitely crossed off my list for anything but maybe tyres – did I mention they slacked off the cheap braking pads that were on my car which they themselves put on last year?

Never mind. The car really stressed me out I admit. Not least as we were supposed to visit friends this weekend too. I just still not understand how some companies can be so careless. With Kwik Fit for that matter, I had a conversation on Twitter, then with the customer service team over the phone, then with the area manager, and when I collected my refund I was told that they had a few complains unless the garage manager is in. Bad process management but not my business I suppose.

Other than that my work is busy which is great. But the main problem we have is recruiting. We are looking for media sales people (and I know a few actually read my blog and mention this in interviews). Sales people who are selling to agencies, know how to deal with media planners and maybe have sold network solutions before. Media sales people with display experience. Those are hard to get by as it seems. We only recruit what we would think of the best people and whilst there is a huge unemployment rate in this country, there is a shortage of staff in the digital industry. It seems paradox but the whole industry seems to be the same. It also results in salaries being paid that go beyond any sustainable level – I believe that the industry will be in for a big surprise when salary levels drop to a “normal” level again. We shall see. Dot com boom number 2?

These are all my thoughts this week. I am still recovering this weekend, not making it easier for my wife me by being useless at home at the weekend.

I keep you posted.
Best wishes,

car insurance – Volvo again

Now this is another day, another topic but the same brand. VOLVO.

As you all know by now I am not overly happy with Volvo Doves Croydon. And, after my complaint to Volvo directly, they answered me the following:

“Whilst the dealer does represent Volvo, they are an independent business within their own right and your contract of sale lies with them.

As such I have made the assistant service manager, Peter G., aware of your dissatisfaction. I will also pass your comments onto the relevant individuals within Volvo.

Any contribution to a repair would only be given in certain circumstances where the vehicle is outside of warranty. Given that these repairs are not covered under your warranty policy, in addition to the fact that you have had the work carried out independently, we will not be able to assist you on this occasion.”

Now, I was aware of that, however there wasn’t a mention about the brand. My beloved Volvo brand, which got sold to a Chinese company this year. After my dissatisfaction with their branch which they cannot control but represents their name, they can only pass it on to other people within the company?

I never asked for replacement. Nor did I ask for money. I asked for respect, love and care from my most favourite brand. What about an answer like

“Mr. Ballueder, whilst we totally understand your dissatisfaction, we have taken that matter further and informed…. However, we would never want you to think badly about our brand and as such, as you understand we cannot cover any of your costs, we would like to send you a box of Volvo merchandise articles, e.g. a T-Shirt, a Baseball Cap, a keyring, some cuff links, a shirt for your son, an umbrella……”

And, if they wanted to go further, why not send me a voucher for Β£50 towards my next Volvo Dealership MOT service? That is what brands should do, some do, but Volvo obviously doesn’t want to do. Maybe one day they wake up and say “you remember this Ballueder guy, he was right. Can we hire him as a Marketing and Brand Consultant?” I tell you, my fee would be an XC90 a day πŸ˜‰

Maybe I have said enough about this case, as I actually wanted to speak about car insurance.

First my bank, First Direct, called me as I tried to get a car insurance quote from their website. After they couldn’t get me a quote I gave up but appreciated the call. Unfortunately, they are unable to give me car insurance as my wife is under 30 years of age and hence they would not insure her on a car like ours.

volvo xc90 lowered
No, this is not how our car looks like!

WTF? My wife has had her UK driving licence for 12 years, 9 years no claim bonus and drives our Volvo XC90 with our 1 year old son. However, as she is younger than 30, she cannot be insured on such a powerful car? That is wrong and a big FAIL from First Direct for not providing us with an insurance. However, we are happy to receive your income every months and take care of your savings, but your wife is unfortunately too young to take responsibility to drive a powerful family car?

However, I thought why not ask Volvo for a quote, after all they do car insurances. Again, I was declined and when I called them up the reason came out. Whilst Volvo is happy to sell me an XC90 T6 with a 2.9 litre petrol engine and also let’s my wife drive it, they wouldn’t cover her on the insurance. Neither me for that matter. This time it is our inexperience of not having driven a car with a similar engine for at least 2 years before.

WTF? I change cars from a 1.6 litre to a 2.9 litre engine and from 70 to 250 horse power (estimates), from a road racer to a family car, and the latter, just because of the engine, cannot be insured due to lack of experience?

I wonder what is coming next? Will they ask for your height to justify whether the model of car you are driving is small enough for you to look over the steering wheel? Will the colour of the car or size of the car make a difference, or is it just your age and nothing else. The inexperience I would understand as a reason of age but not in our time and (old) age with combined almost 30 years driving experience. They are missing the bigger picture of this being a family car and as such not being driven as a lowered show-off vehicle!

FAIL Volvo. FAIL First Direct.

Looks like Admiral made the race again for the best and after all cheapest car insurance.

Thank you Sir, good night.

Sunday Column (69)

What a week lays behind us. Dentist is all I say. A new filling, luckily no root canal, and a bit of pain on Monday. My wife says I moan to much so I don’t even mention my cold that really got to me on Thursday/Friday. And the weekend, I still didn’t feel right, but no sympathy, no.

So I don’t share my illnesses, maybe something else I could share, something I am allowed to moan about.

As you know we got a new (used) car in February. Recently the “service is due” lamp came on and I was a bit surprised why that was. After only 4 months! I decided to go to an independent garage, e.g. Kwik Fit. I remember from the start of when I bought the car I was wondering that the brakes almost felt a bit stuck but didn’t worry about. Could I not trust a Volvo authorized dealer that allegedly did a check on the vehicle? You can read all about my previous bad experience of Volvo Doves Croydon in my earlier blog post.

I really trust the guys at Kwik Fit and should have seen them much earlier. To be honest, I wouldn’t have gone if the service light hadn’t come up. So they discovered that there was something wrong with my brakes. Hurray. Two new brake discs, new pads and potentially I need a new caliper that caused the brakes getting stuck. So the new brakes, new battery, two new tyres that according to Volvo Doves Croydon will last for a very long time (they did last another 1,000 miles) mounted up to a hefty bill. Ouch! We now just hope that the caliper was fixed and we don’t need to replace that one too.

Ok, there could always go something wrong, and they are “wear and tear” parts. However, I know the problem was there from the beginning, and I know we bought the car with the failure. But of course when I called Volvo Doves Croydon, they wouldn’t take that on at all, and the 12 months insurance would not cover wear and tear parts. Surely, they would not see me again at their garage. What a really poor service, and disappointing experience from an authorised Volvo car dealer. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for things to be ok for the next year or so, MOT is not due until December. I guess the prejudice for used car dealerships, independent or authorised, come true for some. Not a nice experience and I am really contemplating of writing to Volvo about it. I don’t want to start with the brand experience again, but honestly, I would get involved if I was Volvo.

Anyway, back to the rest of the week: work really dominated this week. We have been busy, very very busy. But, we shouldn’t complain about that. mexad is striving and growing and we have our second person starting next week. We are very excited! Onward and upwards.

My parents arrived this weekend. So despite the cold and my wife not feeling 100% :-), we still managed to have a fantastic family weekend. We also visited one of Colin’s pals for his first birthday, and have more first birthdays coming up in the next few weeks.

Next week looks busy again, a very busy work schedule but I really enjoy it!

Have a good one until next week,

Volvo Doves Croydon

Now, as you know we recently bought a new car, a Volvo XC90. However, it turned out to be a few things wrong with the dealership Volvo Doves Croydon which sold me the car. They, above all, lied to me. Whilst I could expect that from a second hand sales person for any cars, and you almost think car sales people are dubious, it just doesn’t match with a Volvo car dealer, particularly as Volvo Doves Croydon came highly recommended from a friend. My dad drives Volvos for a long time, and I thought by me entering the Volvo market by buying an XC90 with 33, they would appreciate my custom somewhat. Far from it.

Below is the story told in a letter which at the end, since Doves Croydon resolved the issue, I never sent to the Head of Customer Services Volvo UK, or to the dealership.

Maybe I just didn’t send it because just typing it and putting it on my blog was enough for me to get rid off it in my system. Maybe that was all I needed. Maybe silly, but it just gives you another point of view for customer service and brand understanding.

Letter I never sent:

Dear Mr. Keaney,

Let me introduce myself. My name is Volker Ballueder, currently 33 years old, and I grew up with my father driving Volvos since I was about 15 years old. And, honestly, I never thought I would or would even consider driving one myself.

Things changed and with a good offer from your dealership Volvo Doves Croydon, I recently purchased a used Volvo XC90. We reserved the car on a Wednesday, test drove it on a Saturday and were allowed to pick it up on the Thursday as it had to be checked out, cleaned and the MOT had to be done.

So on Friday, 12th of February, I picked up the Volvo. However, the first thing I noticed was that the MOT was from the 20th of January, and that the car inside hadn’t been cleaned. There weren’t any foot mats either which surprised me.

However, maybe I was spoiled from my previous experiences of buying used Volvos with my dad? I didn’t give it too much thought as I just purchased a lovely car. I didn’t want to argue about three weeks MOT, and buying own foot mats and giving it a proper clean myself shouldn’t bother me either.

There was little communication during the buying process from the side of the dealer. Sales person Jeff from Volvo Doves Croydon didn’t return calls or wasn’t available on agreed times when I went to the garage. Again, I didn’t give it much thought.

When I grew up, the Volvo car dealer my father used to buy Volvos from, always offered excellent customer service. Working in customer service and sales myself, I got a good idea on how to please customers by watching the Volvo dealer. They gave my dad Christmas presents, a bottle of champagne for buying a (used) car, helped when he needed a second car for a weekend, and just did these little favours for him whenever he had a question about his car. Cleaning a used car or adding new foot mats were small but nice little treats I learned to expect from a valued car dealer. That is what I associate with Volvo, a brand that represents good quality and safe cars for me, associated with outstanding customer service.

Now, you probably wonder where this is leading to? Exactly, whilst buying the Volvo XC 90 at Doves Croydon I was told I get a 12 months warranty and a 12 months RAC membership with the car. Instead I got a letter saying “as I didn’t purchase the vehicle, my warranty is cancelled”.

It took a few phone calls and it was explained to me that the car comes with a 3 months warranty, which after negotiation turned into a 12 month dealership warranty with break down cover. So, overall, nothing to complain about the car dealership anymore. Sales Manager Gerry of Doves Croydon was very helpful and arranged things for me.

So what is my concern then?

My disappointment doesn’t come from not having the warranty, and or the RAC membership set up. No, I was LIED to. The brand, and Volvo Doves Croydon represents the brand Volvo for me, has lied to me in the sales process about:

– MOT they had to do
– Warranty I would get
– Breakdown cover I would get

Now, I hope they didn’t lie about the car itself. Will my Volvo last as long as I think it will? Is the quality of the car as good as they said it would be? Can I trust them? Can I trust Volvo? These are the questions that come to my mind, as trust and brand image have been compromised if not destroyed by them. Any unfamiliar noise in the car is now a question of “did it get checked out properly?”, “is it working ok?”, “is there anything wrong with it?”.

I don’t need to tell a VP of Marketing and Sales what it means for a lifetime value of a customer at 33 to purchase his first Volvo. If I am a happy customer there is a chance, similar to my dad, that I become a brand advocate and buy Volvo cars for the next 40 years. Every 8 years, assuming an average price of Β£20,000, Volvo Doves Croydon is currently in the process of ruining Β£100,000 value for Volvo cars.

Mr. Keaney, having written this all, I am more than confident that you not only understand my issue, but will make sure that your dealerships will reflect the high standard I would assume a Volvo brand reserves.

My issues have been dealt with by Volvo Doves Croydon in a highly professional manner, so I don’t look for any more compensation or gifts. I just, as a Volvo advocate, needed to bring that to your attention.

Yours sincerely,
Volker Ballueder

Sunday Column (51)

What a week. I know I keep saying that but it seems like one week tops another πŸ™

A virus infection of some sort slowed me down Monday and Tuesday, and Thursday and Friday I had the man-flu. So I only went to the gym, or better say a swim, once this week. That disappoints me a bit but I shouldn’t exaggerate things.

However, on the business side of things, it was a successful week with lots of meetings, positive noises and lots of interest. The next two weeks are already fully booked with conferences, meetings and work related stuff. But I enjoy it. Truly do (Sacha, I mean it!)

My dad turned 67 this week (sorry for revealing your age), and we picked up a Volvo XC90 this week, guess that makes me almost as old as him – but not as wise of course πŸ™‚

The car is great. My mother in law, my wife and boy went down to Rye on Saturday, and it was like driving a proper car. You can see the road, enjoy the heated seats, and it is just a comfortable trip. The 19.4 mpg are a bit too much, but we don’t drive too often, do we?

On Sunday, Valentines day, I got my wife these two ducks I was writing about the other day. And, of course, some roses. Some roses that could swim in the bath and double up as candles.

Sunday we planned to have a really relaxed day. However, I got food poising from the crab roll or prawn Jalfrezi. I was still sick in the afternoon, and didn’t feel well all day, so think that I will not be back in the gym as of tomorrow.

Have a great week.